The value of being away – reducing stress

All too often you hear entrepreneurship success stories of teams working 80 hour work weeks and sleeping at the office.  How a team is hunkered down for months or years chained to their desks. How being successful is not an overnight thing and takes years of hard work and dedication (which I can attest to).

Does it happen? Sure.

Is it healthy? Most definitely not.

Do we at Shugo sometimes do this?  Rarely — our typical work week is probably 50-55 hours now.

So why am I even bring up the point? With the holiday weekend that just past, it reminded me about the value of being away. The value of distancing yourself from your business for a few days to:

1. Refresh & Relax – catch up on sleep, fun, family time, etc…

2. Clear your mind

I’m guilty of it — I spent roughly 3/4 of my day thinking about my business (the other 1/4 I’d spend with my family and my dreams). How we can improve, grow sales, close prospects, increase our product offering, etc… Sometimes I get so caught up in it that I don’t let myself let go and relax. A few weeks ago I was so tied up in things, I just felt crappy overall. I was stressed to the max, my body was aching, neck and shoulders were so tight. I decided then I needed to change a few things:

1. I implemented an exercise program — I’ve always ate pretty healthy. Even my three year old son for a school project told his teacher’s my favorite food was salad. I probably eat 5-8 salads a week for lunch or dinner.

But the one thing I hadn’t done in about a year was exercise. I played on a co-ed soccer team, until a knee injury crept up (well the result of the other team taking me down during play). I spent two days in bed after and decided that my soccer career was over (pretty sad considering I played my entire life through high school and captained my college soccer team as a sophomore).

So I knew I needed to do something. I needed to get a sweat going but more importantly give my body a stress relief. I chose running — not because I LOVE running but because I knew I could start slowly and work my way up to a more suitable program. Plus running doesn’t require any equipment or gym memberships.  It’s just me and the road at 5:45 am (every other day). I’m now up to 3.6 miles and I’ve never felt better.

2. I took some time to myself — I’m not afraid of long hard hours but I felt like I was spending too much time on the business that maybe I was getting a little burnt out. I knew I needed some time away to recharge my batteries and focus on something other than business. I looked what companies such as 37 Signals has done with 4 day work weeks in the summer and their month off program they just implemented to allow employees to dream up new ideas and features for their company. I knew I needed something for myself.

No I didn’t do 4 day work weeks or a month off but I started taking a few hours here and there. We’re in the process of finishing my 4 year-olds new bedroom so last week I took two afternoons and focused on it. Yesterday (labor day) I took off when in the past I would have worked. I spent the day finishing up the bedroom but also spent alot of time with my kids. I’m pretty much an expert now at some of the match and “bingo”-like games they play.

Just those few hours away have been enough to recharge my batteries. No more headaches or backaches from stress. No more waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what I need to do to be successful (well I can’t say this is 100% gone but it’s happening a lot less).

So the morale is don’t be afraid to step back from your business to clear your mind. Sometimes having a fresh perspective is what’s needed. I know for me personally, it’s been exactly what the doctor ordered.

Taryn’s new bedroom

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